Brazil must ‘fight like a forest’


We were in a position to keep respiratory by clinging to the small openings that life gave us. Now it’s time to widen those openings right into a horizon.

And as we proceed onwards, we must stop worrying about what the Bolsonarists do day by day – for, just like the supporters of the sect of Trump have shown us, even after the storming of the Capitol, they could proceed acting in this manner if we are able to’t discover a treatment, as a society, to the sickness of 58 million Brazilians.

This under no circumstances means ignoring the fact they represent, however it does mean acting not in relation to them, but relatively in a profound relationship with life.

We’d like to be. And never be in opposition to them, as we’ve been until now, but be within the stitching of the current, which might only be possible within the imagination of the current.


I’m now not talking in regards to the future, but the current. The here and now. Doing what makes us feel good.

Getting back to art, to bounce and poetry, to the emancipatory education of Paulo Freire, to spirituality, religious or otherwise, to the enjoyment of living together, and talking of that which brings us joy.

Restarting debates that expand our minds, because the opposite expands our minds, as an alternative of threatening us.

We’d like to assume our own lives and picture a rustic, to liberate our subjugated subjectivity which has spent 4 years waking from a troubled sleep to find what they did, what they said, what they’re conspiring, and what we want to do to defend ourselves.

Now we’ve an especially small window we want to widen with the sum of all our strengths. That’s what I learned by living within the forest and observing the forest peoples, as a whole beginner. If the forest exists despite the attacks it suffers, it’s since it lives with such fierceness.


Where there may be death, it’s superimposed by life. That which is dried and scorched, returns ferociously to life at the primary rain. What dies is instantly devoured to make sure the lives of those that continue to exist.

Flowers bloom in probably the most devastated spots, animals disperse seeds through the forest, fungi communicate in vast communities, trees carry on an infinite conversation.

I often consider the butterflies that lost their colours in order that they could mix in with the wildfires of the arsonists, ceasing to be yellow, blue, green, pink, red, and becoming gray just like the ashes of the burned forest.


Commitment to life is just not an act that begins and ends with the person. It’s an act by which one who understands themselves as a person discovers they’ll only be so in relation to a different.

Commitment to life in the general public sphere is to fight – together – in order that the hungry can eat.

Commitment to life in the general public sphere is to fight – together – in order that Bolsonaro and all of the criminals of Bolsonarism are investigated, judged and punished.

Commitment to life in the general public sphere is to fight – together – to discover and hold accountable those that ordered the killing of Marielle Franco, and who killed Anderson Gomes alongside her.

Commitment to life in the general public sphere is to fight racism – all racism, including that committed every day against other species. Commitment to life is to conviver – to live alongside each other.

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Probably the most difficult part would come after the catastrophe had been averted. And that is what I feel. Not from faith, but from experience and investigation. But to fight, for me, is to fight like a forest. It resides fiercely, being enchanted by every scrap of life and forcing wide every opening life brings.

Lula’s victory, greater than the reconstruction of Brazil, means the potential of reconnecting with reality. For this, we want to withstand any desire to mystify Lula himself, because then we’d be continuing in the identical place.

We don’t have a rustic to rebuild, we’ve a rustic to assume. Imagination. Imagine-action. Now we have to assume a rustic without racism and without hunger.

Now we have to assume, most significantly of all, as that is the structural change that may determine all of the others, a planet the centre of which is life, not the markets. Now we have to assume, to liberate the current from the absence of its future.


For this to be possible, the forest must remain a forest. In response to scientists, the Amazon reaches the purpose of no return, the moment when the forest will now not act because the forest, our great climate regulator, when it’s between 20% and 25% deforested. We’re very close to twenty%. 

Obviously, the destruction is just not homogenous: there are parts of the forest which have already reached the purpose of no return and are emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb. And there are others farther from this point, equivalent to the indigenous lands, probably the most protected areas.

However the forest is interconnected and what happens within the forest acts as a part of a sequence on a multi-diverse, but intimately connected planet.

The defeat of Bolsonaro’s means a novel probability to stop the destruction of the Amazon and find ways to get better degraded areas before they’re beyond saving.

Probably the most effective approach to achieve that is to demarcate the indigenous lands which can be yet to be protected. This is just not some type of favor: in 1988, the Brazilian Structure determined that each one native peoples’ lands needs to be demarcated inside five years. Three many years later, this resolution stays unfulfilled.


Brazil’s latest government also must officially recognize and grant legal ownership of quilombola (residents of communities originally founded by escaped enslaved peoples) lands, expand conservation units, and protect the whole lot that went unprotected under the Bolsonaro government.

The Lula government must implement agrarian reform within the Amazon, recognizing and supporting communities of local sustainable agriculture staff.

Those that live within the Amazon, or who’ve followed the massacres committed against settled family farmers, know that without agrarian reform protecting the forest might be not possible.

Now we have long known what must be done. There are plans and projects for all of it, including the immediate removal of the 20,000 miners – a few of whom are indentured laborers – from the Yanomami Indigenous Land. It just must be done.


Lula’s campaign commitment can only be fulfilled by listening to Brazil’s native peoples and traditional populations (quilombolas, riverine communities and dozens of others). But being heard won’t be enough. Such peoples will need to have an lively role in power.

As Brazil’s black and Afro-Brazilian activist movements have taught our society, without the division of power, the structure of society cannot change. The forest peoples, and peoples from other natural enclaves, must occupy positions at the best level of presidency.

The official profile of the transition team, and the federal government that may take over in January, must comprise more women, more black Brazilians – the declared racial identity of nearly all of the country’s population – in addition to more indigenous and nature peoples.

Make no mistake: we’re at war. It is just not a war between us and the Bolsonarists. It’s a war between the minority that, within the words of the shaman Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, ate the planet, and the bulk who’re already living on a more hostile planet.


Brazil has an important role to play on this war not due to its agribusiness, which destroys the Amazon and the Cerrado to supply soy to feed enslaved animals world wide, but because 60% of the biggest tropical forest on the planet lies inside its borders.

The presidents of the USA and the countries of Europe didn’t rush to congratulate Lula on his victory due to Brazil, but due to the Amazon.

If the Amazon is destroyed, interest in our country disappears and we might be a pariah perpetually, no matter who governs us, for having put all humanity at enormous risk. It’s time to act in line with our reality: Brazil today is the outskirts of the Amazon, not the opposite way around.


The alternative is just not whether to fight or to not fight. But there may be a alternative in learn how to fight. Allow us to fight like a forest, by clinging to life’s openings and turning them right into a horizon, using joy as an instrument of resistance, and imagining the country by which we wish to live.

Occupying, as nature does, every empty space. Finding the last breath of life on the dead earth and being reborn, sabotaging the agents of death day after day and selecting the affirmation of life.

Let’s fight con-vivendo, or living alongside each other. Within the words of the social movements of the forest, what we want now is just not development, but involvement. Fighting like a forest is just that: being radically involved in life.

This Creator 

Eliane Brum is an award-winning Brazilian journalist, and the co-founder of Sumauma – a trilingual, rainforest-based news platform that puts nature at the center of the storyline by amplifying forest voices. She is the writer of The Collector of Leftovers Souls, published by Granta. Her latest book, “Banzeiro òkòtó – The Amazon because the Center of the World”, will launch next March with Indigo. 

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